UFC 111 was a launching point in the pursuit of heavyweight legitimacy for the monster that is Shane Carwin.
Living true to his reputation, Carwin finished off heavyweight veteran Frank Mir in the first round, by way of a knockout.
Carwin hasn’t left the first round in 11 professional mixed martial arts bouts. Prior to the fight with Mir, Carwin would spend an average of one minute and nine seconds in the cage before winning.
Some credit should go to Mir, then, since he did take Carwin to the four-minute mark this past Saturday.
With UFC 111 behind him, Carwin will get a chance at Brock Lesnar’s belt—and he is now among the top heavyweights in the world.
Critics still had questions about Carwin’s talents after he knocked Gabriel Gonzaga out, but those questions have now been laid to rest.
On the flip side, Mir’s world has come crashing down once again—and for the second time, it was at the hands of a wrestler with cinder blocks for fists.
Unfortunately for Mir, he has a harsh reality to face: He has a very difficult time dealing with bigger guys who know how to wrestle.
Mir first faced this reality when current heavyweight champion Lesnar took him down, smothered him against the cage with his wrestling, and proceeded to pound his face until the referee was forced to call the fight at UFC 100.
This won’t be the first time Mir will have faced adversity in his career, and he seems to deal with it in two very different ways. Mir started his career going 8-1, taking people’s limbs off (including Tim Sylvia’s arm) for the heavyweight title in 2004.
Mir was young, had a lot of talent, and was holding the UFC heavyweight belt—until disaster struck in September 2004.
Mir was involved in a major motorcycle accident that could have cost him his life, and almost cost him his ability to walk.
Out of fighting for two years, Mir came back in 2006, going 2-2. He lost to relative unknown Marcio Cruz and light heavyweight Brandon Vera and held uninspired victories over Dan Christison and Antoni Hardonk.
During his return, Mir was drinking heavily, showing up to fights out of shape and in a general state of depression over the fact that his body wasn’t the same as it used to be before the accident.
With the help of his wife, Mir became more focused than ever, and he began to take his training seriously—something he had never done before in his career.
It was at this point that a new, reinvented Frank Mir emerged and began to make waves in the heavyweight division once again, defeating heavyweight newcomer Lesnar and mixed martial arts legend Antonio Nogueira. Mir showed the world that even when he is down and out on a path of self-destruction, he can get the wheels back on track and start over.
The big question now is whether or not Mir will be ready to start over after losing to Carwin.
Although the loss to Carwin came in a similar fashion as the one to Lesnar, the latest is probably all the more upsetting because of the time and effort Mir put into closing the gap between himself and the big wrestlers in the heavyweight division.
In the Lesnar fight, Mir weighed in at 245 pounds, and he was never really into weightlifting or packing on extra muscle.
After losing to Lesnar, Mir began working with a trainer and managed to pack on 25 pounds of lean muscle before his fight against Kongo; he had to cut weight to make the 265 pound limit.
In the fight with Kongo, Mir’s dedication to strength and conditioning was very evident in his disposition and in the way he won the fight. Mir’s added strength and weight gave him the power to knock down Kongo with a powerful left, and then he proceed to choke him out for the win.
Fans were excited by the new Frank Mir. Although he will never be as big and powerful as Lesnar and Carwin, he did close the gap considerably.
Many people—including Mir—thought that with his strong technique and new-found strength, he would be ready for the new breed of heavyweight fighters.
Carwin couldn’t have been a better test for Mir in terms of gauging his abilities and chances at winning a rematch with Lesnar.
Unfortunately, all the hard work didn’t pay off.
Mir was taken out the same way against Carwin as he was against Lesnar: Carwin pushed Mir into a corner using his superior wrestling, tired him out with a clinch, and teed off with upper cuts until the fight was finished.
The only difference between the Lesnar and the Carwin fights was that Lesnar gave Mir the beat down on the ground, and Carwin did it standing up.
Frank’s loss at UFC 111 is probably still stinging and it certainly puts him in the face of adversity once again.
I am no fighter—and I don’t pretend to be one, for that matter—but Mir seems to have a certain level of complacency when he is in bad positions that is unnerving to an outsider.
Against Lesnar, Mir was giving the thumbs-up to the fans while being smothered and pummeled in the first round.
In the second round, he once again didn’t look scared to go to the ground against Lesnar—jumping onto the behemoth and letting him fall over on him after landing two knees. It was here that Lesnar gained control and knocked Mir out.
Mir showed this complacency once again this past Saturday. He didn’t look in a hurry to get out of the clinch against the cage with Carwin. The camera caught him casually looking up at the clock and not doing much to advance his position or get off the cage.
Ultimately, his lack of urgency to get out of the dangerous spots led to his demise.
Against a strong wrestler like Lesnar or Carwin, the most dangerous place is with your back against the cage—whether it is on the ground or standing up—and Mir didn’t seem too nervous.
In any case, it might have been that Mir was overconfident in his wrestling because of his new-found size and strength. Or maybe he just couldn’t avoid the positions in which he was put.
In any case, it would appear that Mir needs to work on some better game planning for his future matches against the UFC’s elite heavyweights with a strong wrestling base.
He has the jiu jitsu training, and his striking is crisp. I think the key ingredient for him to get back on track is to come up with some better plans of attack.
The real question mark surrounding Mir right now is: How is he going to rebound after this fight with Carwin?
Could Mir end up going back down that dark road between his motorcycle accident and the win over Lesnar, where he wasn’t motivated to train and was generally abusive to his body?
Or will we see the motivated Mir, who was in the gym right after his loss to Lesnar, working hard at trying to get another title shot?
Mir needs to get a rematch against Nogueira—another fighter on the rebound— and the outcome of that fight will determine their respective futures.
A win against Nogueira would put Mir back in line and ready to face some of the heavyweight division’s burgeoning talent. If he can put together a string of victories against top talent, he could get his title shot sooner than expected.
A loss to Nogueira would really put Mir out of the heavyweight picture. Mir would probably take over the position Gonzaga holds in the UFC right now: gatekeeper.
In any case, Mir should take himself out of the media limelight, quiet down his trash talk, and get back to training for his next fight. Because it will be a career-defining fight, no matter who he is matched up against.